Experiencing God, Both as a Couple and Individually

Posted in Marriage Monday with 10 comments

Experiencing God

How do you experience God?

It has taken me until this past year to realize just how many different ways there are to feel close to Him and just how different people can be in that experience. I see some post a million pictures of sunsets to their Instagram accounts, always praising God for His creation. I see others spend hours at a time reading over theology books, never quite being able to get enough. For some, praying with others is when they feel His Spirit move, and for people like me, music is an emotional, God-ordained time.

What about your spouse? If they are a believer, how do they feel close to the Lord? Maybe you are very similar and both enjoy spending time together in the Word or maybe you are completely different and sense Him speaking to you in completely different ways. For Matt and I, we are the latter.

It took me awhile to realize this. Before we were married, I walked a path of legalism that still bubbles up from time to time today. I had to read my Bible every single day or I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. If I didn’t think I prayed enough, I felt guilty and thought God was mad at me. I struggled with the weight of my sin no matter how much I asked for forgiveness. Thankfully, Jesus really got a hold of my heart and showed me just how great His love and His grace were. He worked on me as I began college and used my church and those around me to build me up and tear down the ties that had bound me so long. By the time I married Matt, I definitely felt more of the Lord’s freedom, but still thought that our marriage needed “more”. More what? I’m not sure… but I would hear of these amazing couples that prayed together every night, read their Bibles with one another every day, and who would go through numerous Bible studies as one. These are all great things, but as I pushed Matt to lead me (not quite the way it works…) and he tried to do so, I only pushed back. What in the world was my deal?

It took me several years and lots of tries on both of our parts to realize what was going on. We do not experience God the same way. I live for my worship music and can’t get enough of God’s presence when I listen to it. Matt, on the other hand, loves to be in the Word. I often find his Bible on the table when I get up in the morning and know that he was having a quiet time before he headed to work. The problem? Matt is not a fan of Christian music and I am horrible at studying my Bible. Don’t get me wrong, Matt likes worshipping at church and God definitely uses His Word to speak to and through me in my life, but these are not the ways that we both feel drawn to and close with the Lord. What took me so long to realize was that this is ok.

God speaks to us all in different ways and it’s ok if your way is not your spouse’s way. What is important is that you are each experiencing Him both together and separately. If you experience Him through the Word, then by all means find time in your day to be alone and curled up with your Bible in hand. And if you feel Him in the waves of music then turn up that volume in your car and belt it out as you run your errands for the day. But how do you come together and experience Him?

This is a tough one and one we are still learning but have gotten much better at. We tried Bible studies (that would last a day or two), we tried nightly devotional books (Yea… it maybe happened once or twice a month?), and we even tried praying together nightly (Forget about it, one of us would always be asleep before the other’s head hit the pillow). These are all GREAT things and if you connect with your spouse by doing one of them, please continue! I find the problem to be when we compare our relationships (both with the Lord and with our spouse) to other people and fail to see God’s grace in who He made US to be.

While I cannot tell you how to experience God together, I do want to encourage you to find a way. For us, it has been through conversation. We talk about the sermon on Sunday and how it affected us. We talk about how God spoke to us when we were having our own separate times with him. And we talk about what is happening in both our lives and in the events around us as they relate to the Lord. I never feel more connected to Matt then when we have these conversations. Yes, we still pray together… but not all the time. We still read scripture together on occasion, but it usually happens when one of us is struggling over the meaning of a certain verse. We do a Bible study together with our Bible study group from church, but it usually involves a conversation over the content rather then filling in each blank with one another as we go.

Each couple is different. But that’s ok. God designed us this way and the sooner we realize how He created our spouse to worship Him, the sooner we will learn how to encourage them in it. So stop beating yourself up for not being like Mr. and Mrs. Perfect from your Sunday school, and enjoy the way God made you and your life partner. Find ways to connect spiritually and ways to worship the Lord together. When your relationship with God is the primary relationship in your life, it makes this process a whole lot easier. Focus on the Lord and look through His eyes when you view your spouse. Remember that He created him/her differently and find ways to connect together. It will allow you to enjoy life together in new and more meaningful ways.

 


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10 Comments

  1. Kate @ Teaching What is Good

    Great post! Learning how to experience God TOGETHER in our marriages is vital to its strength and growth. And for us to grow in ministry together. Thanks for sharing this. Coming over from Marital Oneness link-up.

    Reply
  2. PK

    Thanks Erin, a great post! This is something that I really want to get better at, but wasn’t sure how or what. Now I will be seeking God in how to encourage my spouse and draw near together.
    God bless
    PK

    Reply
    • Erin Baxter

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, PK! I’ll say a prayer for you and your spouse to be connected spiritually in your own special way! God bless!

      Reply
  3. Keith

    Wait ’til your son is born, it will change everything, including this aspect of your life too. Joanne and I are the exact same way y’all are, but once we had kids we started working together to support their walks with Christ. That brought out our differences but in a really good way!

    Reply
  4. Megan@DoNotDisturb

    I completely understand where you are coming from. Justin and I approach our growth in Christ through different avenues and we have learned to accept that. Comparing how our marriage grows spiritually with how other marriages grow spiritually is a sure fire way to feel defeated.

    One aspect we include to grow spiritually together is to serve together. While we each have very different ways of serving and relating to others, knowing that we are working together, side by side, towards a common goal has been very beneficial to our marriage. This might be food for thought to other couples out there searching for ways to connect with their spouse spiritually.

    Megan

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  5. Elizabeth

    I found your post helpful because it confirmed what I had been thinking… my husband and I seek God differently and it’s ok. Thank you. It is something I have struggled with the (almost) 4 years of my marriage. I eventually came to realize that my husband and I found/experienced God differently. But it is still a challenge to try to find God together not only because of this difference, but also because my husband became Catholic and I’m Protestant (so talking about theology together is generally just painful for me). I also struggle with feeling free to seek God in a different way than my husband, not because my husband is dominating or anything, but I guess because of my personality. Do you have any tips addressing particularly how we can appropriately feel free to pursue God in our own way?

    Reply
    • Erin Baxter

      Thanks for reading, Elizabeth! And denominational differences can be hard to learn to live with. My biggest suggestion is to find a church that you both can enjoy. It may seem a little ritualistic to you, and without enough tradition for him, but if you can find one where you are both receiving what you need from the teaching, it will be a great start. Matt and I don’t agree with everything theologically sometimes (on all the foundational things we agree, but just a few things on the gifts of the Spirit and what not), and our non-denominational church has been great for that as they do not push one way or the other. Definitely pray a lot and seek God’s wisdom in how to submit while also receiving what you need in faith. I have seen my parents have a successful, 29 year marriage with one being catholic and the other being protestant, so I know it can be done!

      Reply